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Saturday, December 17, 2005


Where do we draw the line?

I come from a generation that challenged everything. Our parents had been raised by Victorian moral standards. The pendulum had swung a long long way and as we grew up in an atmosphere of oppression we kept asking: 'Why?'

Young people today challenge their parents but lets face it, they already have freedom to do just about anything. The challenges are token rather than real. In the sixties we really did have a revolution, mostly nonviolent but a revolution nevertheless. Western society changed drastically during and after the sixties. The pendulum swung just as far in the opposite direction and perhaps in many cases it swung too far.

I have always questioned the validity of censorship. I believe censorship is dangerous. Censorship has been used by many governments of many persuasions around the world to stifle dissent, to stop people coming up with solutions that did not suit them, the incumbent government.

But is all censorship bad? I have spent much of my life involved with children's literature. Many of my colleagues have proposed that censorship of children's literature was bad. But did they really believe that children should be allowed to read or view anything? Absolutely anything? I find very few of such people who agree with the proposition that children should be able to view pictures of adults having sex with children. Therefore I suggest that most reasonable people agree that some censorship is necessary. The question is: Where do we draw the line?

I do not propose to answer that question. It is something that I believe needs to be debated. The question is very complex. How do we ensure that children are free to read and consider ideas that those in power might not agree with and at the same time protect them from that which most reasonable people believe to be harmful?

What we also need to consider in our present society is the availability of electronic material such as DVDs that once it is in the hands of adults becomes almost impossible to keep from children. We need to ask is this material potentially harmful to our children and therefore potentially harmful to the future of our society. In other words what sort of adults will the children of today become after exposure to the sort of material that is so readily available today and what sort of society will they create. Do we want a say in this or are we going to sit back and allow it to evolve as it will?

Where would you draw the line?

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